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What is an iPhone® App?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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An iPhone® app is an application, typically developed by a company other than Apple®, and designed to be used specifically on the iPhone® or iPod Touch®. Apps work much like user-installed software on a computer and allow the phone to perform specific tasks that the user wants or needs. Users sometimes pay a small fee for the use of an app, which is downloaded directly to the phone. Apps helped make the iPhone® and other smartphones a must-have tool for many people who want instant access to information.

Types of iPhone® Apps

There are hundreds of thousands of applications available, ranging from maps and entertainment guides to business and money management. Many companies have developed iPhone® apps for marketing purposes, such as a grill manufacturer that provides recipes and grilling techniques, or musicians who create games that tie in with their latest album. Magazines, newspapers, and websites also have their own products at the App Store that allow their content to be accessed easily on the phone. Games are extremely popular; the app "Angry Birds," which began as an iPhone® app in 2009, was so popular that it was adapted for other mobile platforms and had been downloaded at least 250 million times by mid-2011.

Where to Download iPhone® Apps

All iPhone® apps must be downloaded directly from the Apple® iTunes® store. Most are relatively inexpensive, and many are completely free. Other smart phones also have their own proprietary apps, so it is important that the phone's owner downloads the right ones for the phone.

How to Find Apps

Apps are categorized by subject in the App Store, allowing users to narrow down what iPhone® app he or she is seeking relatively quickly. With so many available, popular downloads and staff picks are highlighted to make them easier to find, and categories can be sorted by name, popularity, or release date. Recommendations are also available, based on the other apps a user has downloaded. Apple® also promotes certain apps on its website and through various social media channels.

Creating an iPhone® App

Apple® maintains strict control over what applications are available for download to the iPhone®. Third-party developers typically use the Apple® software developer's kit (SDK) to create the app, and an iPhone® simulator to test it. The SDK is available for free, but in order to submit an application for sale, developers must be registered with Apple® and pay a fee. If the app is accepted, the developer and Apple® share the revenue on any sales. Apple® may not approve an app if it is deemed inappropriate, and the company has pulled approved apps after they were available for sale due to complaints.

There has been some controversy over the process that Apple® uses to approve each iPhone® app, and many developers have found the experience to be quite time-consuming. In the official approval guidelines document, the company reserves the right to reject apps it feels are "over the line," although exactly what that line is is not defined. The company also states that it will reject apps that are poorly made or don't do anything useful or entertaining, all with the goal of providing a good experience for iPhone® users.

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Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By anon131356 — On Dec 02, 2010

I have a dumb question. How would you sell to the iphone audience? Do you need to make certain software adjustments to advertise to that consumer segment? Can you reach them with your blog content? Or do you need to become an iphone user?

By michellec — On Jul 12, 2009

QuickVoice Recorder. This app automatically converts voice message to text. It’s like your very own personal assistant. You can record and send reminders, memos, ideas, personal messages, observations, details of a meeting/interview or your week’s schedule.

By michellec — On Jul 12, 2009

Make your iphone work harder for you. Iphone technology has enabled valuable resources to be portable, accessible and flexible for the entrepreneur on the go. There are several iphone apps, which help with things such as finance, productivity, personal assistance, meetings and travel, connecting all aspects of a busy entrepreneur’s life.

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